Philadelphia Flyers

State Of The Flyers: This Offseason’s Top Priorities

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What to do? What to do? What to do? These thoughts have to be going through General Manager of the Flyers Chuck Fletcher’s mind night after night these past few months. Moreover, I’m pretty certain every Flyers fan and their mother is thinking the same thing now. The season is officially over. This is the most critical offseason in recent memory for the orange and black.

The Flyers have to keep their game simple next season. They have to get off to faster starts, and it’s a must for a successful season. The Flyers are gassed year after year towards the end of the season due to fighting for their playoff lives. It has become a common trend for the past four or five seasons, and I wonder if it’s a system thing. Here are some things the Flyers must improve upon for next season to sniff the playoffs, followed by the biggest offseason priority.

Slow Starts

One thing that we have learned this past season is that the slow starts have plagued them once again, like the Bubonic Plague. It’s mind-boggling that year after year for the past eight seasons or so this very topic has to be discussed. How do the Flyers get off to faster starts? Who knows, right? Why are they ill prepared to start the games? Who knows, right?

The Flyers scored 63 first period goals, which was good enough for 22nd in the league. This was followed by 82 goals in period two and 90 goals in period three. To prove this point even further teams scored 94 first period goals against the Flyers, and that leaves a -31 goal differential. This has to be a system thing, as the Flyers got off to slow starts under Dave Hakstol and now Scott Gordon. Of course, it’s not fair to just pin this on Gordon, as he has done an admirable job while filling in as the interim Head Coach. But, this is one reason were not playing playoff hockey.

According to Bill Meltzer, 32 times out of 82 games this season, the Flyers trailed 2-0. Getting behind the 8 ball night after night really takes its toll on a team. They become tired, and flat.

For the last four to five years, maybe longer, the Flyers notoriously have come out flat, and behind the 8-ball in a lot of games. It appears they lack the urgency, and they play uninspired hockey for a period or two. This has resulted in them fighting for their playoff lives towards the tail end of the season. Something has to give to fix the problem. The Flyers can ill afford being gassed at the end of the year next season. They are supposed to take the next step next season, so getting off to a fast start early in the year is critical for this young team.

Proposal

I think the Flyers coaching staff could provide more emphasis on faster starts in practice. If that doesn’t work maybe a sports psychologist has to talk to the team more often. There are no real easy solutions to this problem, but the players say they need to start faster in their post-game interviews. To me, it sounds like they’re aware it’s a problem, and if that’s the case it might be a mental thing. One thing is for certain, they need to get off to faster starts next season.

5-on-5

What more needs to be written about the inconsistencies of play at even strength. The Flyers have tallied 241 Goals For (Which was 14th best in the league), but have allowed 280 Goals Against (Which wass 3rd worst in the NHL). This is good for a -39 differential, “Playoffs, you want to talk about Playoffs,” while taking a page out of Jim Mora’s playbook. There is just no way they can make the playoffs with being this inconsistent.

The Flyers as a team must get better at even strength next season. They have to push the play more consistently, and the orange and black have to have the skaters to play 5-on-5. This is to include the 4th line, as the Flyers should roll four lines, not just two or three. Moreover, to further this point the orange and black had a 48.4% CF, and had a 165.2 xGF (Which is well below the league average of 175.9). Simply put, the Flyers have to generate more quality shots. Lastly, play at 5-on-5 was actually worse under Scott Gordon, than it was under former Head Coach Dave Hakstol.

Proposal

Selecting the right Head Coach is key for the Flyers next season is one key to a solution to this problem. This problem has been lingering for the past few years. Moreover, the orange and black need speedier players to keep up with the pace of the game. They need players that can win board battles to extend plays, doing the dirty work to provide quality scoring chances.

Defense

At times the Defense is nonexistent. I understand the Flyers Defensive core is young. However, the Team Defense was at times nonexistent even before the Flyers were eliminated from the playoffs. Moreover, the Flyers 18-4-2 run under Gordon was thanks in large part to Brian Elliott and Hart, not the Defense. There are simply no excuses for the lack of effort that Elliott and Carter Hart had to face against the St. Louis Blues this past Thursday night. Robert Hagg missed assignments, Shayne Gostisbehere had turnovers, as well as, Ivan Provorov. Corban Knight missed assignments backchecking, it was the team as a whole that missed assignments while leaving Elliott and Hart out to dry. As a unit, the overall team defense has to improve, and leaders such as Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux have to set the tone early next season.

Let’s be honest the dramatic drop-offs in the games of Provorov, and Ghost killed this team defensively this season. They were two main parts to the overall defense of this team in prior years, and to have this type of drop off in play really took its toll on this young group defensively. Travis Sanheim and Radko Gudas put together really solid years, but Hagg and Andrew MacDonald were not good this season. Hagg got off to a good start, but midway through the year he really struggled with transitioning out of the zone. MacDonald was bad with transitioning out of the zone, as well, but as a eteran, he should be better.

Provorov stated yesterday, “I was 100% healthy,” while Ghost said he took a puck off his knee back in October against Colorado. Ghost further states that he finally felt better later in the year, but reiterated that he doesn’t make excuses about injuries. However, this explains a lot with his drop off.

As a whole, the Flyers defense for the 2018-19 season registered 821 giveaways, 490 takeaways, and 1,277 blocked shots. These numbers were compared to the 2017-18 season in which the Flyers defense registered 757 giveaways, 487 takeaways, and 1,269 blocked shots. An increase in turnovers this season proved to be costly, thus the -39 goal differential.

Proposal/Top Priorities This Offseason

There are two main priorities this offseason, hiring a Coach, and signing or trading for a top-four defenseman. The Flyers need a veteran defenseman to pair with Provorov. Sanheim played admirably as a top pairing Defenseman this season, but he would be better suited as a middle pairing Defenseman at this stage in his career

If I’m the Flyers I would try trading for Jared Spurgeon, and if that failed I would make an offer sheet to a Restricted Free Agent in Jacob Trouba. Lastly, if that plan failed I would try to sign Erik Karlsson via free agency. The Flyers have options, and assets to obtain a top-four defenseman. This young defensive core needs a stable vet and one that can transition out of the Defensive zone smoothly. Unfortunately, the Flyers miss a Chris Pronger, and Kimmo Timonen type defenseman.

Hope For The Future In Carter Hart

Some people said he wasn’t ready for the big show, while others thought he was. Hart was built for this moment in the NHL, and he has really shown why he was considered the savior of the franchise. For the season, he finished was 16-13-1, had a 2.83 GAA, and owned a .917 Save Percentage. Should we be surprised? Absolutely not, Hart was built for this moment.

He’s electrified the fan base. Hart has proven he is the real deal, and he gives the Flyers hope for the future. On and off the ice Hart seems to amaze people on a daily basis.

Brian Elliott said yesterday, “Philly fans have a lot to look forward to with Carter Hart.”

No proposal needed on this one. The only question remaining in terms of Goaltending is who will serve as Hart’s backup next year Elliott or Talbot? Talbot said yesterday he thinks he can help Hart if he’s brought back here, so he leaves open the possibility of resigning. Either way Fletcher has a lot of household cleaning to do, as well as, put together a group that can gel and win again. It all starts with hiring the right coach, as always Flyers fans lets go Flyers.

Notes:

Coach Q is reportedly headed to Florida, and we at Phillysportsnetwork.com were one of the first sites to report it.

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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15 comments

  • LAWRENCE FREEDMAN says:

    raising ticket prices with a medicore team at beat is not a great idea.We have to sigh young free agents and continue to build good farm system.You can only ask so much from loyal flyer fans and they are beyound loyal is really risky.Bring back dave schlutz

  • dave catherman says:

    As a fan since 1967 people remember the good ole times….. that was over 50 years ago!!! The flyers are corporate and business geniuses. They charge top dollar for gritty, flyer girls, mitey mites and the such. They make $$$$$. Now getting rid of over hyped and overpaid players are another thing. Blow it up, now. Giroux is not a captain, jake plays about 60% of the time, and lets bring back another old flyer as a coach. Ive had it!

  • Gregg Lorenz says:

    When Paul Holmgren fired Ron Hextall he sent a message to people like Joel Quenneville and anyone else of quality who could become a good GM, or head coach and that message is, “I might fire you on the spur of the moment, no questions asked.” No wonder Quenneville wanted nothing to do with the Flyers.

    By the way, Scott Gordon was not the answer as coach. Ten losses in last thirteen games proved that. He was too soft and players took advantage of him, just like they did with Hakstol. Flyers need a coach they fear to get motivated.

  • Gregg Lorenz says:

    Defense is not just the defensemen playing well Baskow, it is the forwards getting back too, to help out. Why would you make an offer sheet to an RFA? That could cost the Flyers four key pieces in four straight drafts. No team has ever benefitted by signing an RFA. Finally, why go after Erik Karlsson? He is past his peak years and like Chris Pronger would put constraints on cap space in a couple of years.

    • Jamey Baskow says:

      Gregg,

      Thanks for the read. Let me point this out to you, “However, the Team Defense was at times nonexistent even before the Flyers were eliminated from the playoffs.” Where does that just say its just the Defensemen problems for the lack of D. I appreciate your comment, but don’t tear my article apart without fully reading it.

      The Flyers are in a state where they can afford to lose 4 Draft picks. There prospect pool is loaded to the gills with some Grade “A” prospects. Now is the best time to make an offer for Trouba.

    • Jamey Baskow says:

      Gregg,

      “As a unit, the overall team defense has to improve, and leaders such as Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux have to set the tone early next season.” Don’t know where that says its just the Defensemen problems with the D.

  • Jamey Baskow says:

    Rick,

    Thanks for the read. I do believe Jake has a lot improve for next season. I think the team as a whole needs to get tougher, and add more grit. I mean its the same old, same old. I hope Fletcher sees this, and makes the appropriate moves.

  • CJ says:

    The attitude of mediocracy is written and instilled in this organization. You don’t play to get to the playoffs, you play to win the cup. Minus Heart, pun intended he is the only bright star on this dismal organization. I truly believe the loyal fan base is going to rebel as it’s now showing on social media. Oh and by the way ticket prices next season to watch subpar players and coaches. The Flyers will not be successful until they get real leaders in management and the team.

    • LAWRENCE FREEDMAN says:

      raising ticket prices with a medicore team at beat is not a great idea.We have to sigh young free agents and continue to build good farm system.You can only ask so much from loyal flyer fans and they are beyound loyal is really risky.

  • Joseph Briglio says:

    I was never a fan of VoraCHOKE! I always believed that contract would be an albatross. For 8 million you need 30+ goals and thats not his game. Looks like we are stuck with him.

  • Harold Gelwicks says:

    Would love to see following lineup
    Giroux- Couturier-Konecny
    JVR-Patrick-Skinner
    Farabee-Frost-Ratcliffe
    Lindblom-Laughton-Hartman

    Provorov-Doughty
    Sanheim-Myer
    Gostisbehere-Gudas

  • Harold Gelwicks says:

    Flyers defensive problems are directly related to the fact that they have 6 forwards that would not be signed by an NHL team if released by Flyers.

  • Rick Haas says:

    You forgot to mention that this was one of the “softest” teams for the flyers since the early nineties. Very little grit or grind outside of Gudas, Hagg and Simmons, and, once Simmons was gone? Noting that once Simmons won the All-Star Game MVP award, he never played at the All-Star level again. We need some big bangers at forward for the corner play, so teams don’t exit their zone as effectively as they did this year. Our forecheck was good early on but died as the season went on. Let Sam Morin play more and the crease will be cleared better as well.

    Question, how does someone have only 17 hits in 82 games and played defense? Is that possible? Voracek is now skating as if he has one foot in a bucket and is slow to get out of the offensive zone. Another great contract from Paul Holmgren, as we’re stuck with this play through 2024. He has not had a good year since his contract year. The Power Play won’t improve until this turnover machine is removed from the top group. “In the old days, they would say he has more turnovers than Pepperidge Farms!”

    They should have brought up the top line at LV for the last few games for a look and let the “seniors” get ready for April golf. What a sad way to end a season. This team should have been sponsored by Mister Softee Ice Cream.

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